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For many managers, an “engaged” employee and a “satisfied” employee are one in the same. In practice however, an engaged employee is often satisfied, but a satisfied employee may or may not also be engaged. Sometimes, managers focus on offering good compensation to satisfy employees, but forget to reward and recognize them to increase engagement. As a result, although 88% of worldwide employees are at least somewhat satisfied with their jobs, only 13% of employees working for an organization are engaged. So, what’s the difference between the two?

By definition, job satisfaction is a measure of how content someone is with their job. Staff engagement on the other hand, is a measure of how connected an employee is to the organization; how committed they are to the organization’s values and goals, and how motivated they are to contribute to the business’ overall success.

Identifying Satisfied and Engaged Employees

Satisfied employees are typically simple to identify. Qualities of a happy and content employee include:

  • They get along with their coworkers and managers. 
  • They earn a salary that they believe is a fair compensation for their work.

Engaged employees however, are much more centered around their feeling of achievement and importance within their workplace. What does an engaged employee look like?  

  • Happy and motivated
  • Brand advocate who speaks highly of the company both as an employer and an organization.
  • Willing to learn from managers and coworkers, or willing to take additional courses to build new skills that make them more effective.
  • Enthusiastic, inspired, empowered and confident.

Most of all, when an employee is fully engaged, they understand what it takes for the organization to be successful, believe that the brand can be successful, and are inspired to play their part to help the business get there.

Drivers of Satisfaction and Job Engagement

woman-engaged-working-on-computerThe factors that drive job satisfaction are much different than those that drive employee engagement. Employees are most satisfied with their employment when they are in agreeance with their payand benefits, when they are treated respectfully by managers, and when they have friends and positive relationships at work. However, employees can be pleased with the incentives that a job offers but not be progressive, productive or engaged in their specific role within the organization.

Unlike “satisfied employees”, engaged employees are interested in giving their best to the company, and using their role to progress the company’s mission and position. According to Dale Carnegie Training, the top three drivers of employee engagement are — the employee’s relationship with his or her immediate supervisor, belief in senior leadership, and pride in working for the company. Other factors that drive engaged employees include:

  • They know what is expected of them, and have all the resources available to do their job effectively.
  • They receive frequent recognition for successfully delivering good work.
  • They feel as if their supervisor or manager cares about them as a person, and encourages their personal and career development.
  • The organization’s mission makes them feel as though their position is important.
  • They have opportunities to learn, grow and excel.

Engaged employees are often “happy” employees, but unlike satisfied (but disengaged) employees, their satisfaction is not purely incentive driven. Instead, they are engaged because they feel that their job is important, that they are able to do their job well, and that they are recognized as an integral player within the establishment.

Why is Employee Engagement Important?

Studies have shown repeatedly that employee engagement is directly linked to the performance and profitability of an organization. Dale Carnegie’s Engaged Employees Survey found that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%.

Engaged employees and disengaged employees have a totally different perspective on the importance of their position or role. A recent Global Workforce Survey found that 84% of highly engaged employees believe that they can have a positive impact on the quality of their organization’s products, while only 31% of disengaged employees felt as such. Furthermore, 72% of highly engaged employees felt that they had a positive impact on customer service, while only 27% of disengaged employees felt the same.  

High-performance businesses are able to hire the best talent and engage them as a functional asset to the business. Companies who are not focused on employee engagement often have high turnover, and have a difficult time retaining talented employees. Annually, $11 billion is lost due to employee turnover. Some studies have shown that the cost of replacing one employee can be equal to 6 to 9 months of that employee’s salary, on average.

Does Recognition Increase Engagement?

Employees who do great work want to be recognized for their efforts, and want to feel as though their work makes a difference. Research by Socialcast suggests that 85% of U.S. workers appreciate having their efforts recognized, 78% say that being recognized motivates them, and 69% say that they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated. However, 52% are dissatisfied with the level or recognition they receive, 39% don’t feel appreciated at all, and more than half don’t believe that their company cares about them. As realized by this data, many organizations have a difficult time understanding and managing employee engagement.

For a company to build a culture of engagement, managers must encourage staff to complete above-standard work, and then recognize them frequently for doing so. There are several ways that recognition and rewards can be implemented within an organization, including:

  • Social recognition – Especially in today’s social media-fueled world, employees feel high accomplishment when they are recognized amongst their peers. Companies should have a rewards and recognition program that allows employee acknowledgements to be shared and celebrated throughout the organization. Some companies even use programs that allow employees to recognize and reward one another; taking social recognition and team engagement to another level.
  • Professional and skill development – Engaged employees want the opportunity to progress in their careers and improve their skillsets. Offer paid training and opt-in educational opportunities that allow them to become better employees — which highly benefits both the employee and the company. Discuss their career goals with them often, and find ways to promote employees within the company once they have met certain milestones or completed certain trainings.
  • Physical Rewards – Earning a paycheck is great, but receiving awesome rewards for going above and beyond will motivate employees to perform at their highest capability. Rewards like gift cards, travel opportunities and electronics, can go a long way in building loyalty, enthusiasm and engagement throughout your organization.

The key to maximizing employee potential is a combination of both job satisfaction and employee engagement. Businesses that are successful in building an engaged workforce are those that invest in their employees on a daily basis with effective employee engagement strategies. Investing in your employee’s careers, development, and personal lives is an investment that has an endless return!

Want to learn how rewards and recognition can increase employee engagement and performance in your organization? Contact one of our rewards specialists today! 

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